Thursday, February 16, 2012

MAG: To be or not to be?

I am reading Ginger's "actions call" for MAG self/nominations. And it is so spirited that I have decided to write down my "thoughts" here as a blog. Will be my third blog of the day.. Looks like I'm in a bloggy mood.. if ever such a word exists.

In reading the scoring, I see that I actually have a "BIG FAT" chance. Here is the way I see it:

1. I will get a 10% for being in Côte d'Ivoire, a country that has yet to be on the MAG

2. I will get another 10% for being from a developing country

3. And another 10% for not being male.

If I add that I have been active in my national IGICI and the West Africa IGF - WAIGF and also the AfIGF that is taking shape.. I sure will get some extra points.

Then I will add a 10 year history in WSIS and its related activities, and a formal training in International relations and linguistic diversity etc

So I think I will be around something like 70 or 80%

The question, therefore, that warrants this blog is "so why are you not nominating yourself or seeking someone to do so? Even despite the fact that you have received solicitations asking you to do so?"

To be or not be.

Here is my shot: Thanks, but NO, thanks. I will pass on this one. Why? Well for at least 5 reasons:

1. I am busy. I wish I could get 30 hours a day, but no, I dont have it. I am doing this blog at about 100 minutes to midnight! I would love to spare myself the MAG work.

2. I have downgraded ALL unpaid trips to anywhere outside of Africa. I cannot spend 3 days running visa, spend at least 200$ in the case of a Schengen one, and not get paid for that. Especially now that the ECOWAS passport is 32 pages instead of 48.

3. Anybody knows where a Nigerian living in Côte d'Ivoire will get a visa for Azerbaijan? I may probably need to do a trip to one other African country first.. Okay, enough with the visa thing..You only get a visa problem when THE FUNDING problem itself has been resolved. And the song around "civil society participation", "gender balance" and "participation from developing countries" is beginning to tire my Spirit.

4. I want to invest locally and if possible invest in action. I am a development-oriented African. Though words are of the legal profession and the whole of the "activism" thing is great.. but you know what? Over the years I have grown wider but also wiser. I want action, change, things done. At this age and weight.. I have a leaning for "less talk, more action"

5. I have 512 KBPS on wifi at home here. Add to that, that little tiny thing that if groomed well will come in handy for folks like me.. Remote Participation. I'd rather be reclining on my couch in my sitting room with this netbook of mine, eating my own kitchen food, enjoying the warm and airy Abidjan weather while connected remotely than to be trudging in any Geneva cold paying 15$ for ugly sandwiches!

MAG: To be or not to be?

Aint no question for me.. I will PASS! Maybe some time later, if/when things change.

Les 5 ivoiriens que tu dois croiser au quartier. 1 sur 5: Le titro-socio-politico-psycho-LOGUE

Il n'y a pas mal de temps que je comptais écrire ce billet de blog. Il s'agit des gens qui se trouvent dans nos quartiers, en tout cas, ici, à Abidjan.

Pour ma part, je suis issue de la belle commune de Cocody. J'en suis à ma 15è année. J'ai eu à faire plusieurs quartiers de la commune. Ces gens là, je le trouve dans chaque quartier. Pour ne pas nous éparpiller dans la conjugaison de il ou elle,(ce qui rend l'écriture d'un billet de blog difficile d'ailleurs) nous allon nous en tenir à un genre pour chaque personnalité.

Bon, découvrons:

Le titro-socio-politico-psycho-LOGUE

Ne comptes pas sur moi pour sa photo! Celui là, d'abord, il se croit un grand intellectuel. Il est le premier au carréfour pour faire la titrologie. Voila des années qu'il fait "ça". Il a bonne mémoire de chaque ministre, de chaque Dirécteur Général de chaque société d'état, de chaque Président de la FIF (Fédération Ivoiriènne de Football), de chaque Président du club au pays. Il les connais depuuuuuisssss!

Lui, il maitrise la politque de la France, du Nigeria, du Sénégal, de l'Oncle Sam, il a fini avec la Chine, le Japon, la Malaysie etc. Il te dresse un bon tableau de "pourquoi le Dubai est devenu ce qu'il est de nos jours". Il a son opinion sur Boko Haram, sur YENAMARRE,ETA en Espagne, la démocratie à la Poutine et l'état des choses en Birmanie.

Il faut tout de même reconnaitre que le type connait un peu. Il a une opinion sur tout et tous. Et comme il arrrive à peindre tout un tableau avec des mots et des chiffres, personne au quartier ne trouve assez de courage pour lui tenir tête. Et comme il a aussi fait un peu d'études, il arrive à confondre les gens avec les mots tirés de la psychologie,astrologie, antropologie, sociologie, et toutes autres logies que seul le Bon Dieu connait!

S'il commence une analyse politique et que tu t'arrêtes pour écouter.. ce que ta course de la journée est déjà foutue! Car lui, il est capable de démontrer comment Houphouet Boigny a vendu le pays à la France, comment l'UEMOA va s'écrouler sans la Côte d'Ivoire, pourquoi Barrack Obama sera re-élu, et où vont les Triples A de l'Europe.

Lui, c'est un "connaisseur" d'hommes de la politique et de la chose sociale..

Tu le connais?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

AWUNSEM : Word-Weaving – An almost-extinct profession from the old Ashanti Kingdom

I spent a wonderful weekend in Ghana recently. I met Selina Amanquanor., who captivated me. Rarely do I fall head over heels in love with anybody.. but this time, I was really star-struck..

No, I did not fall in love with the Amanquanor woman herself, but with her work. She practices a profession that I know from the first minute I heard that “Hey! This is what I should have been doing for a living!”

So what is Selina's profession? I actually had to ask around.. then finally decided to gather my courage to ask for an interview with the lady.

AWUNSEM. That is the Akan word for it. It translates into English as “Poetry”. But no, that is not what it means. Selina said there is no other language equivalent for this Akan expression. Here is the way she expressed the meaning of AWUNSEM:

Awunsem is like weaving a basket. It is the use of words to make a humanity basket. If there is Kofi and there is Kwame, you must bring Kofi and Kwame to a moral, psychological and social equity, equality and humanity with the use of words. You must give existence, sense, focus, meaning and direction to human life in a poetic, rhythmic and harmonious manner!

Wow.. what a profession!

Since I met Selina during the funeral services of a certain key figure in Ghana, I asked if this is done only during deaths. She said no. You have Awunsem at all human events – deaths, births, marriages, every and all kind of human events and gatherings.

So what exactly does an Awunsem do? Here is what I saw:

On Friday night, there was laying in state of the body of the deceased at her residence. The body lay till Saturday morning when it was lifted to the church and a Christian service was held. All through the Friday/Saturday night, the Awunsem wove words. Some times, she spoke to groups of people, at other times, she spoke to the children of the deceased individually. Early Saturday morning, she changed clothes and sat in a very strategic place – between the gate and the room where the body lay in state.

She wove words.

And weave words, she did! She spoke in about 3 Ghanaian languages, and in English. She reminded us of who the deceased was, what she had done in her life time.. her likes and dislikes, her vision and her accomplishments. While she spoke about the deceased, I felt she was talking to me. I felt thoroughly woven in, I felt part of it.

Then I relaxed.. the sadness of mourning gave way into a more relaxed thinking. Awunsem puts death into its right perspective. It is not a tragedy, we shall all die. Awunsem questions your being, your motives, your raison d'être, digs deep into your very being and unearths hidden and fearful thoughts. Awunsem helps you confront your fears, links you to the others, gives you comfort, levels you into the sea of humanity and raises you on the waves of global brotherhood (and sisterhood).

At a point, you feel one with others, you surf on the wave of words, on the sea of humanity, ready to brave the storms of life.

In church, Awunsem made her entrance in a traditional flute which she was blowing herself! She read out a dirge in Twi, the native Akan language. I did not understand all the words, because they were deeper than the everyday Twi which I know. It was rhythm, harmony and rhymes. She read with voice inflexions worthy of a grand master in the art and science of phonetics. She spoke about the deceased in terms that challenged the living.. that challenged the lives of the living.

While the daughter of the deceased read out a biography, Awunsem stood by, playing that wooden flute in subtle tunes.. It was captivating. It was... a rare moment, a breath-taking rare moment.

After the interment, Awunsem came back with the family to the residence and exhorted the guests one more time. She praised God in His numerous names: Odumankuman, Tweduampon, arousing His greatness, His supremacy, His omnipotence. She praised God for the gift of the life of the deceased, a life she reminded us was a gift to us. She spoke about her birth, character, children, grand children, defunct husband, her friends, her favorite things...

By the time the Sunday service rolled round, hearts and minds were ready to actually do a thanksgiving service. It was dancing, it was offering, it was gratitude to God for the life of the one who has passed on. It was a clean fresh sense of a mission for most of us. A mission to lead a better life, to focus on what matters, to be reverent to Odumankuman, and to be part of the solidarity of the human race.

Yes. That is what an Awunsem does. That is what I would love to do. The profession is rare and almost extinct. With our native African languages on the decline and individuals embracing the literary profession far and few between, how many Awunsems will we have in 20, 30, 50 years' time?

You may have read of Prempreh, Son of Ashanti, the Ashanti kingdom, or maybe recently, of Kwame Nkrumah.

Here is a photo of Selina … one of the very last in a dwindling line of Awunsems. The Word-Weaving experts.

An almost-extinct profession from the old Ashanti Kingdom